Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Brown (11/26/09)
TITLE: The Color of Cinnamon Toast
By Sara Harricharan
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It was the kind of thing she read about in books, saw on television cooking shows and smiled, while nodding as if she knew remembered it from childhood memories. It was also the color of the four-by-four ceramic tiles in the back of her pickup truck.
Carrying the boxes two at a time, she set them outside, nudging the door open with her foot to let in a bit of sunshine while she finished unloading. The tiny building was scarcely bigger than a closet, but she’d built it well. The walls were insulated and roof was neatly shingled…and everything was brown. The terra-cotta outside was an equally brownish-shade of…brown, at least as far as Annalee was concerned.
She did not complain, of course, for her job was doing exactly as clients wished, a lifetime career with countless opportunities to make someone else’s dreams come through in rich, detailed color.
This project, however, was a complete mystery as to the inspiration. The client had requested specific brand-names and paint colors, which were highlighted on a diagram to show where they could make their appearance. Several trips to the hardware store and a few more to the home improvement center and finally all the tools and supplies necessary to begin the project were gathered.
Hooking her thumbs in the sides of her sturdy blue overalls, Annalee watched her shadow as it fell gracefully across the floor and then up a few feet on the wall. The room was very tiny and the browns were making it even more depressing.
The client had chosen a golden-brown for the walls and a walnut-brown for a border, with a rust-brown and a copper-brown to accompany with patterned motifs. The very last straw, at least for Annalee, had been the last minute decision to tile the entire thing.
Granted, it wasn’t a very big shack-or rather-room, but it would require her to cover up all the detailed handiwork with the handful of shimmering, freshly painted brown walls behind it. She shuffled forward, snagging a box of tile from outside and then beginning to read the instructions. It’d been a few months since she’d used this new kind of tile and she didn’t want to make any mistakes with the new quick-set option.
And so she worked.
Her shadow kept the time, for she watched it dance from one wall to the next as the sun made its daily trip across the skyline. She paused, once, in the middle of the twelfth box to eat a hoagie and a bottle of fruit juice. Blood sugar had to be kept up and protein in the sandwich was good.
It was also an admirable shade of brown, thanks to the whole-wheat nature of it.
Her thoughts flitted back and forth over many things in the world, comparing the reality to her own existence in ways that made the monotonous task of laying tile to pass with ease instead of ire. There was something dark beneath this brown.
She thought of trees and bark, nature-ly kinds of things until her brain rebelled, refusing to see anything creative within. It shifted gears, allowing her thoughts to roam to horses, creatures with lovely brown coats, personifying elegance and beauty.
Perhaps that was the reason behind the penchant for brown, Annalee mused, as she laid the last tile and inched out of the doorjamb and out onto the dusty ground. The client had requested his project to be constructed near the edge of a mountain ridge, in order to be closer to nature.
The project, now completed would fit right in the forest-like surroundings in the beautiful mountain. Annalee gathered up the cardboard boxes and tossed them in the back of the truck. She tied a tarp over the bed and made sure nothing could fly out when she thundered down the ancient dirt roads.
Then she went to close the door, lingering a half-minute within the edge, unable to stand on the freshly laid tile. For a brief second, she could almost smell the cinnamon in cinnamon toast.
Her smile faded as she returned to town and headed for a pay phone.
Shoving quarters through the slot, she spoke first when he answered. “The tomb’s finished, Mr. Durheim.” She twisted the cord around her aching fingers. “In the cinnamon toast color you wanted. I expect my payment, the final installments, to be paid in full tonight, if you would-thank you.”
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